Monday, January 07, 2008

Single Issue Hall of Fame: Brave and the Bold #197

When I first started interacting with fellow comic book fans online, I was pleasantly surprised how many people named this issue as one of their favourite Batman stories. I bought it off the rack as a kid, and was likely bummed out that Jim Aparo didn’t draw the interior art. I also imagine that most of the nuances of the story passed well above my head. It was nearly a decade later, as I re-read all of my old comics books during a period of serious procrastination, that I discovered what a wonderful gem we have in Brave and Bold #197. Alan Brennert’s story would likely not be published today for two main reasons: 1) It involves Earth-Two, that old Petri Dish where one could play with characters without impacting continuity too much and 2) It involves fairly realistic human emotions.

In their relatively advanced years, Batman and Catwoman come together and develop a real understanding of each other’s motivations. There is a scene that I consider to be among the top comic book ‘moments’ of all-time. As she watches Batman remove his costume, Selina gasps as at the scars that he has developed over the years. Those few panels say as much about Batman as anything you’ll ever see. Joe Staton’s pencils are perfect for this story, as he manages to give Earth-2 the necessary timelessness. His square-jawed Batman bridges the gap between Dick Sprang and Bruce Timm. I don’t know how long it will take for the DC Showcase series to reach issue #197, so I highly recommend that you hit all of your favourite comic book haunts and track down a copy.

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